I don’t find gluten free baking that complicated, but I must admit it’s trickier than ordinary baking. The first thing I noticed about it is that it is more precise than baking with gluten. I used to be quite relaxed about quantities when I baked with ordinary flour, and I never worried about being very precise. I quickly noticed that with gluten free baking, I had to be meticulous: 10 g more or less can really make a difference. So I went and bought myself an electronic scales.
I really recommend you do the same. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive – I just went to my local supermarket and bought the cheapest model (which, as I live in Switzerland, wasn’t that cheap 😅). If you type “electronic kitchen scales” on Amazon, you’ll see there are plenty of models under 10£ which look perfectly fine. Honestly, it’s a good investment!
The other thing I notice is that gluten free baking tends to be more sensitive to variations in temperature – either the outside temperature, or the temperature of the ingredients used. This is not something you can really control, but it’s something to be aware of. My bread dough, for example, usually rises much faster in the summer, when it’s hot, than when it’s snowing outside. Although I can’t do much about it, I just know that I must allow more rising time in the winter than in the summer. Also pay attention to the temperature of the ingredients – most recipes, especially those with dough that needs to rise, work better with ingredients that are at room temperature.
Gluten free cakes, I have noticed, usually do better if they are prepared one day ahead. If you bake a cake and serve it within a few hours of taking it out of the oven, it is usually pretty crumbly. If, on the other hand, you give it a day at room temperature, it will hold much better together. This rule doesn’t apply to cupcakes – they are small enough that they hold together even if eaten straight away!
Bread, on the other hand, is a hundred times nicer if eaten straight away! Unfortunately gluten free bread, no matter how delicious it is when it comes out of the oven, quickly gets dry and looses its “deliciousness” 🙁 My solution to this is the freezer. As a busy mum, I can’t bake bread every day, so I make it in batches and freeze it – either in half loaves or in slices. I take the bread I need out of the freezer and I toast the slices directly. If I take a half loaf out, I let it thaw for a while and then put it in the oven to “revive” it for about 15 minutes. This works really well. You can do that with gluten free baguettes too. I just take them out of the freezer and put them straight into the oven and it defreezes them and revives them all at once! If you have a combined steam oven, that’s wonderful: just use the hot air/steam setting and it works beautifully. But don’t worry if you don’t! For years, I had a perfectly ordinary oven and it worked fine too.
Generally speaking, when baking gluten free, I would advise to be patient and not too much of a perfectionist… I have learnt to accept that my recipes don’t always look exactly the same – sometimes things rise beautifully, sometimes they seem lazy; sometimes the food is more crumbly than others. But it always tastes delicious, and that’s what matters to me 🙂
So, to summarise my baking tips:
- Buy an electronic kitchen scales
- Keep an eye on room and ingredient temperature
- Try to bake cakes a day ahead
- Bake bread on the day and freeze what you don’t use that day
- Be patient
- Don’t be a perfectionnist 😉